The Democratic Alliance has written to the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, and the CEO of Alexkor, to request that they consider appointing an independent adjudicator to review submissions made under the recently issued Alexkor call for expression of interest to contract diamond miners interested in mining areas along the West Coast of South Africa.
In order to ensure an open and fair tender adjudication process, Alexkor must remove itself from the review process entirely and allow an independent adjudicator to evaluate the submitted bids. Based on the magnitude of the tender, Alexkor cannot afford to have doubts cast on the adjudication process, especially considering the scathing findings that were made by the Zondo Commission on state capture over the Scarlet Sky Investments 60.
In a scathing finding against Alexkor, the Zondo Commission found that a tender that was awarded to Scarlet Sky Investments 60 in 2015, giving it exclusive rights to market and sell the diamonds produced by the Pooling and Sharing Joint Venture (PSJV), a joint venture (JV) between Alexkor and the impoverished Richtersveld community, was irregular as Scarlet Sky Investments had no diamond licence.
With this cloud of irregularity still hanging over Alexkor, it would be fundamentally wrong for Alexkor to play both ‘player and referee’ over an extensive mining tender covering South Africa’s West Coast. If Gordhan is genuinely interested in undoing the legacy of state capture at Alexkor and to set this SOE on a path to recovery, he must ensure that the tender adjudication process is handled by an independent arbiter with no interest in the outcome of the process.
Perhaps even more important is that, a transparent adjudication process on the submitted bids will ensure that the most important constituency in the Alexkor enterprise – the impoverished Richtersveld community, derive as much benefit from mining operations in the area as possible. The Richtersveld community has always been at the receiving end of poor decision making by Alexkor and the Pooling and Sharing Joint Venture (PSJV) which underpins their business partnership with Alexkor. This has to change, starting with this ongoing open call for mining contractors.